President Biden Appoints Jessica Stern as U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons

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On June 25, President Biden announced his appointment of Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International as Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons:

WASHINGTON – Today, ahead of his remarks at the White House for Pride Month, President Joe Biden announced that he will appoint Jessica Stern to be the U.S. Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons at the Department of State – a role critical to ensuring that U.S. diplomacy and foreign assistance promote and protect the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons around the world. The Special Envoy will play a vital role in leading implementation of the Presidential Memorandum on Advancing the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons Around the World. At a time when the human rights of LGBTQI+ persons are increasingly threatened in all regions of the world, the Special Envoy will bring together like-minded governments, civil society organizations, corporations and international organizations to uphold  dignity and equality for all.

Jessica Stern, United States Special Envoy to Advance the Human Rights of LGBTQI+ Persons, Department of State

Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, is based in New York. Jessica specializes in gender, sexuality and human rights globally. At OutRight, she has supported the legal registration of LGBTIQ organizations globally, helped secure the mandate of the United Nations Independent Expert on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity, expanded the UN General Assembly resolution to include gender identity, and co-founded the UN LGBTI Core Group. She has provided expert opinions to governments globally, regional human rights institutions, and UN mechanisms, including UN Women where she serves as a member of multiple leadership bodies. Her writing has been cited by the Indian Supreme Court in its seminal judgment decriminalizing same-sex relations and been featured in The Oxford Handbook of Women, Peace and Security (2019). She is frequently quoted by the media, including by The New York Times, Al Jazeera, The Washington Post, BBC News, and The Guardian. She is an adjunct associate professor at Columbia University’s School of International & Public Affairs.

 

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Snapshot: State/CA’s Revenue Drop, Staffing , Backlogs

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Excerpt from Department of State/AILA Liaison Committee Meeting May 27, 2021:
11.DOS’ decision last year to suspend most of its visa operations overseas, while understandable given the COVID-19 global pandemic, has resulted in enormous frustration for applicants, who face a sizeable backlog of pending immigrant visa cases and limited availability of appointment slots for nonimmigrant travel. Please describe steps now being taken or that are under consideration to staff-up overseas consular operations and increase the numbers of visa appointments? Specifically, are there plans to surge overseas staffing with new officers or temporary assignment or detail (TDY) personnel, as was done a few years ago with domestic passport agencies to reduce their backlogs?
While the Department did suspend operations in March 2020, Presidential Proclamation 10014 (effective April 23, 2020 –Feb 24, 2021) and the geographic proclamations (up until April 8, 2021) also played a major role in limiting our ability to process immigrant visas. The Bureau of Consular Affairs (CA) is under enormous financial pressure as a result of an almost 50 percent drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic.We decreased staffing at some posts based upon demand, though those changes are not irreversible. We constantly monitor staffing and demand and redistribute resources as necessary. We examine all options available as we balance resource constraints and workload. The provision of services to U.S. citizens remains our top priority, but we are directing many resources to address the IV backlog. We are employing a number of innovative solutions to assist IV processing posts, including having other missions provide remote help on everything from correspondence to document review. We are utilizing TDY staffing as resources and conditions allow. Local country conditions can affect our ability to send TDY personnel to process these cases as the safety and welfare of our staff is paramount.
12.Since consular operations are fee-based, is DOS considering an increase in certain consular fees as part of a strategy to properly staff and tackle the backlog?
Possibly, if additional resources are being requested through the formulation process, as those requirements are part of the update on unit costs. Recommendations to adjust fees are made after reviewing annual updates of the cost of service model. It is then that the Comptroller’s office initiates discussions with CA leadership for decisions on fee recommendations for consular services based on full cost recovery to adequately and appropriately fund the Consular and Border Security Program. Once additional resources or in this case, staff, are in place or have been formally requested in the formulation process, the Comptroller’s office would capture them in the annual review to ensure that those additional resources are accounted for and then make the appropriate fee recommendations.

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FSGB: “Automatism” Defense Against Notoriously Disgraceful Conduct Charge Fails

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Via FSGB Case No. 2020031 February 19, 2021
HeldThe Department proved by preponderant evidence that the charged employee committed notoriously disgraceful conduct by engaging in non consensual sexual contact with a colleague in a public Embassy space; the misconduct was not caused by a neurological condition (automatism); there was a nexus between the charged misconduct and the efficiency of the Service; and that the penalty of separation is reasonable.Case
SummaryThe Department charged an unaccompanied married employee with notoriously disgraceful conduct after he went to a pool party at an overseas post, had a few alcoholic drinks, and, after some physical contact with a married colleague who was intoxicated, touched her near her genital area without her consent. The incident was videotaped by security cameras and was observed by employees who were at the pool. The Department argued that intent is not an element of the charged misconduct but should be considered as a mitigating or aggravating factor when the penalty is determined. The agency presented the testimony of an expert witness who opined that the charged employee did not suffer from an automatism at the time of the misconduct. The agency contended that the undisputed evidence proves notoriously disgraceful conduct. The Department argued that separation was the only appropriate penalty for the egregious misconduct, given a fair consideration of the mitigating and aggravating factors and a review of comparator cases.
The charged employee presented a report from an expert witness who opined that at the time of the misconduct, the employee was experiencing a neurological event, called an automatism,which prevented him from having any awareness of, or control over, his actions. The charged employee contended that he is not culpable for the charged misconduct because intent to commit the conduct is a necessary element of the charge.The employee also argued that the Deciding Official did not properly consider mitigating circumstances and the penalty was unreasonable after a review of comparator cases.
The Grievance Board considered the undisputed evidence of the incident that was recorded on the videotape and not contested by the charged employee. The Board further reviewed the testimony of the competing experts and concluded that the opinion of the charged employee’s expert witness was not sound because it was not consistent with the accounts of the witnesses, including the charged employee, and it did not derive from a persuasive differential diagnosis. The Board concluded that the charged employee’s expert witness speculated repeatedly on the possible causes for an automatism,which undermined the plausibility of his ultimate opinion. The Board further found that because intent was clearly established, the issue of whether intent is an element of the charge did not need to be decided. The Board concluded that there was a nexus between the misconduct and the efficiency of the Service because the incident was videotaped, witnessed by several employees, resulted in an almost immediate curtailment and a suspension of the charged employee’s security clearance. Lastly, the Board found that the penalty was within the zone of reasonableness after an appropriate review of mitigating factors and case comparators.
The Board finds that Department “has established by preponderant evidence that the charged employee committed the specified charge of notoriously disgraceful conduct, the misconduct was not the product of an automatism; there is a nexus between the misconduct and the efficiency of the Service; and the penalty of separation is reasonable.”
Note: Depending on the browser you’re using, the FSGB cases may not be available to read online; each record may need to be downloaded to be accessible. With Firefox browser, however, you may select “open with Firefox” if you want to read the case file, or save the file to your computer. Please use the search button here to locate specific FSGB records.

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ConGen Lagos’ Claire A. Pierangelo to be U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar and to Comoros

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On June 24, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Claire A. Pierangelo to be the next U.S. Ambassador to Madagascar and to Comoros. The WH released the following brief bio:

Claire A. Pierangelo, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Madagascar and to the Union of the Comoros

Claire A. Pierangelo, a career member of the Senior Foreign Service, class of Minister-Counselor, currently serves as the Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General, Lagos Nigeria. Previously, Pierangelo was an Assistant Professor at the National Defense University and prior to that, the Director of the Office of Performance Evaluation in the State Department’s Bureau of Human Resources. Earlier, she was the Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Hanoi, Vietnam in addition to other positions, including multiple assignments in the Bureau of European and Eurasian Affairs in the State Department and service as Principal Officer at the U.S. Consulate General, Surabaya, Indonesia. Pierangelo earned an M.S. degree in National Security and Resource Strategy from the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, National Defense University, an M.A. degree from the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies and a B.A. degree from the University of California, Santa Cruz.  She speaks Italian, Indonesian, Vietnamese and French.

If confirmed, Ms. Pierangelo would succeed Ambassador Michael Pelletier who served at the US Embassy in Antananarivo from March 2019 – June 2021. Madagascar is one of those countries where the ambassadorial appointees were mostly career diplomats; an 11 career/4 noncareer split since 1960.

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Former U.S. Senator Ken Salazar to be U.S. Ambassador to Mexico

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On June 15, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Ken Salazar as the next U.S. Ambassador to Mexico. The WH released the following brief bio:

Ken Salazar, Nominee for Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the United Mexican States
Ken Salazar has served as U.S. Secretary of the Interior, Colorado U.S. Senator, and Colorado Attorney General. In 1998, Salazar was elected as Colorado Attorney General and became the first Latino ever elected to statewide office in Colorado. He was reelected as Attorney General in 2002. In 2004, Salazar was elected to the U.S. Senate for Colorado becoming the first Latino democrat to be elected to the United States Senate since 1972. During the Obama Administration, he served as Secretary of the Interior, where he had a lead role on energy and climate, and the nation’s conservation agenda. A native of Colorado, Salazar is a fifth-generation rancher in Colorado’s San Luis Valley. He is a partner at WilmerHale, an American law firm and the founder of the firm’s Denver office. Salazar represents clients on energy, environment, natural resources and Native American matters. Salazar has a B.S. from Colorado College and a J.D. from the University of Michigan. He also has honorary degrees from the Colorado School of Mines, the University of Massachusetts Lowell, the University of Colorado School of Law, the University of Denver School of Law, and Colorado College. His native language is Spanish.

If confirmed, Mr. Salazar would succeed Christopher Landau who served from August 8, 2019–January 20, 2021. Since 1960, appointees to this position have been on a 3/10 – career/non-career split or 76.9% in favor of non-career appointees. Previous appointees to this position includes:

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Pride Month At Posts Where Consensual Same-Sex Acts Could End In Death Penalty

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According to the State-Sponsored Homophobia 2020: Global Legislation Overview Update (PDF):

“As of November 2020,
there is full legal certainty that the death penalty is the legally prescribed punishment for consensual samesex sexual acts in six (6) UN Member States, namely Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria (12 Northern states only), Saudi Arabia and Yemen. There are also five (5) additional UN Member States where certain sources indicate that the death penalty may be imposed for consensual same-sex conduct, but where there is less legal certainty on the matter. These countries are Afghanistan, Pakistan, Qatar, Somalia (including Somaliland) and the United Arab Emirates.

….“full legal certainty” is understood as the absence of disputes about whether the death penalty can be legally imposed for consensual same-sex conduct. This legal certainty may be derived from the existence of written, codified laws unequivocally prescribing the death penalty for same-sex conduct, as it is the case in Brunei, Iran, Mauritania, Nigeria, and Yemen. This list also includes Saudi Arabia, where fundamental laws mandate courts to apply Sharia law “as derived from the Qur’an and the Sunna”. In this particular case, even if the death penalty is not codified in black letter law (in a formal piece of legislation), a broad consensus—supported by judicial practice and ancillary sourceshas made it legally certain that Saudi Arabia’s legal system considers the death penalty a possible and appropriate punishment for same-sex conduct.

Conversely, the lack of clear provisions mandating thedeath penalty for consensual same-sex sexual acts, the existence of disputes between scholars and experts with regard to the interpretation of ambiguous provisions, and the need for judicial interpretation of certain “generic” crimes to encompass consensual same-sex sexual acts has led ILGA World to classify the remaining five UN Member States as jurisdictions where there is no full legal certainty. Additionally, the lack of evidence of enforcement couldto a certainextentbe considered as an argument potentially supporting the idea that the death penalty is not considered to be the appropriate legal punishment for these acts by local authorities. However, this argument can be easily rebutted by a mere reluctance to enforce such harsh penalty, even when the possibility exists.

Nonetheless, there is still avenue for advocacy even regarding countries where it is not legally certain that the death penalty is imposed. For example, it may be worthwhile to clarify the ambit of zina (adultery) laws, as the threat of the death penaltyeven if only a theoretical possibilitycan still be an affront to human dignity and equality”


We’ve poured over the Twitter feed of FS posts at the 10 countries cited  in the report. Of the 10 posts, only US Embassy Afghanistan tweeted directly about June as (LGBTI) Pride Month. US Embassy Yemen tweeted a canned Share America piece about the LGBTQI officials serving in the Biden Administration. The US Mission to Saudi Arabia tweeted that “Saudi women are leading in the tech revolution…..” And US Embassy Pakistan remembered to tweet about “Pollinator Week.”

Brunei

Mauritania

Nigeria

Saudi Arabia

Yemen

__

Afghanistan

Pakistan

Qatar

Somalia

United Arab Emirates

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Thomas R. Nides to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel

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On June 15, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Thomas R. Nides to be the next U.S. Ambassador  to the State of Israel. The WH released the following brief bio:

Thomas Nides is a distinguished public servant and business leader. Nides was the State Department’s Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources from 2010 – 2013. Earlier, Nides was Morgan Stanley’s Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary of the Board, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Burson-Marsteller, in New York and the Chief Administrative Officer of Credit Suisse First Boston in Washington, D.C. Nides was Chief of Staff to the U.S. Trade Representative Micky Kantor, was Senior Advisor to Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley, and earlier to House Majority Whip Tony Coelho. He currently serves on the boards of the Partnership for Public Service, the International Rescue Committee, the Atlantic Council and the Urban Alliance Foundation, and currently serves as the Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley. He is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the former Chairman of the Board of the Woodrow Wilson Center appointed by President Obama. Nides received his B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota. He is the recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award.

If confirmed, Mr. Nides would succeed the bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman who was U.S. Ambassador from 2017-2021.

Related posts:

 

President Biden Announces Nominees For NATO (Julianne Smith), ICAO (C.B. Sullenberger)

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On June 15, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Julianne Smith to be U.S. Representative to NATO and C. B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III to be U.S. Representative to ICAO. The WH released the following brief bio:

Julianne Smith, Nominee for the United States Permanent Representative on the Council of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, with the rank and status of Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

Julianne “Julie” Smith is currently serving as a Senior Advisor to the Secretary of State at the Department of State. Previously, she served as the Director of the Asia and Geopolitics Programs at the German Marshall Fund of the United States. From 2014 – 2018, she served as the Director of the Transatlantic Security Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Prior to joining CNAS, Julie served in the Obama administration. From 2012-2013, she served as both the Acting National Security Advisor and the Deputy National Security Advisor to Vice President Joseph Biden. Before the White House, she served as the Principal Director for European and NATO Policy in the Office of the Secretary of Defense in the Pentagon for three years. In 2012, she was awarded the Office of the Secretary of Defense Medal for Exceptional Public Service. Earlier in her career, Smith directed the Europe Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). A native of Michigan, she received her B.A. from Xavier University and her M.A. from American University. She speaks German and French.

If confirmed, Ms. Smith would only be the third woman to served at the helm of USNATO, after Victoria Nuland (2005–2008), and Kay Bailey Hutchison (2017-2021).

C. B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III, Nominee for the rank of Ambassador during his tenure of service as Representative of the United States of America on the Council of the International Civil Aviation Organization

C. B. “Sully” Sullenberger, III is a former United States Air Force fighter pilot, retired airline pilot, safety expert and keynote speaker.  In 2009, as captain of US Airways flight 1549, he and his crew guided their aircraft to a successful emergency landing in the Hudson River with no fatalities.  He has served as a NASA aviation safety research consultant.  As an Air Line Pilots Association accident investigation committee member, he participated in a National Transportation Safety Board investigation of a major airline accident, leading to improved airline procedures and training for emergency evacuation.  Sullenberger has a B.S. from the United States Air Force Academy, an M.S. from Purdue University and an M.A. from the University of Northern Colorado.

If confirmed for USICAO, Capt. Sullenberger would succeed … wait, Sean Doocey, a Trump appointee who apparently was not nominated to hold an ambassador rank, and skipped the confirmation process. According to Politico at that time, he was “Trump’s top adviser on personnel matters, has no obvious experience in aviation, though an administration official who used to work with him said he “was very involved in aviation-related appointments” and he “has always been very interested in it.”

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AFSA Releases 2021-2023 Governing Board Election Results

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Correction: The AFSA Governing Board for 2021/2023 will take office on July 15, 2021, not June 15 (thanks A). AFSA has previously announced the results of its elections:
A total of 3,169 valid ballots were received (3,120 online and 49 paper). This represents 20% of the eligible voting membership. The winning candidates are in bold:
President

  • Hon. Eric S. Rubin * (2,865 votes)

Secretary

  • Daniel Crocker * (2,756 votes)

Treasurer

  • Hon. John O’Keefe * (2,767 votes)

State Vice President

  • Thomas Yazdgerdi * (1,608 votes)

USAID Vice President

  • Jason Singer * (192 votes)

FCS Vice President

  • Jay Carreiro * (61 votes)

FAS Vice President
To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

Retiree Vice President

  • John K. Naland (915 votes)

State Representative (6 positions)

  • Hui Jun Tina Wong * (1,168 votes)
  • Kimberly Harrington (1,161 votes)
  • Maria Hart * (1,124 votes)
  • Christen Machak * (1,024 votes)
  • Camille Dockery (1,009 votes)
  • Joshua Archibald * (931 votes)
  • Stephanie Straface (914 votes)
  • Carson Relitz Rocker * (871 votes)
  • L. Reece Smyth * (725 votes)
  • Maurice Brungardt (541 votes)

USAID Representative
To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

Alternate FCS Representative
To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

Alternate FAS Representative
To be determined when all write-in votes are processed.

APHIS Representative

  • Russell Duncan * (3 votes)

USAGM Representative

  • Steven L. Herman * (1 vote)

Retiree Representative (2 positions)

  • Mary Daly * (857 votes)
  • Philip A. Shull * (833 votes)

* denotes a member of the Strong Diplomacy slate

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President Biden Announces Nominees For OSCE (Carpenter), OECD (Markell), UN/FAO (McCain)

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On June 23, President Joe Biden announced his intent to nominate 17 individuals to serve in key roles in his administration. Among those announced were three nominees for U.S. Representatives to international organizations:
  • Michael Carpenter, Nominee for U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with rank of Ambassador
  • Jack Markell, Nominee for Representative of the United States of America to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with rank of Ambassador
  • Cindy Hensley McCain, Nominee for U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, with rank of Ambassador

Michael Carpenter, Nominee for U.S. Representative to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), with rank of Ambassador

Michael Carpenter is the Managing Director of the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement at the University of Pennsylvania.  He is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Russia, Ukraine and Eurasia, and previously was Special Advisor for Europe and Eurasia in the Office of the Vice President.   He also served as Director for Russia in the National Security Council.  A former Foreign Service officer, Carpenter served in the Department of State as Deputy Director of the Office of Russian Affairs, Special Assistant for the Under Secretary for Political Affairs, Political-Military officer in the Office of European Security and Political Affairs, and Advisor on Regional Conflicts in the Office of Caucasus Affairs and Regional Conflicts.  He served overseas in Barbados, Slovenia and Poland.   He has received numerous professional distinctions, including the Jamestown Foundation Distinguished Service Award and fellowships from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the International Research & Exchanges Board.  Carpenter earned a B.A. at Stanford University, and an M.A. and Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley.  He speaks Polish, Slovenian, Czech, French and German.

Jack Markell, Nominee for Representative of the United States of America to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, with rank of Ambassador

Jack Markell, a former Governor and State Treasurer of Delaware, is the President of Jack Markell Consulting, LLC.  He is a former Senior Vice President of Comcast Corporation and Nextel Communications.  He also has served as Chair of the National Governors Association, President of the Council of State Governments, and Chair of the Democratic Governors Association.  Markell earned a Bachelors Degree in Development Studies and Economics at Brown University and an M.B.A. at the University of Chicago.

Cindy Hensley McCain, Nominee for U.S. Representative to the United Nations Agencies for Food and Agriculture, with rank of Ambassador

Cindy Hensley McCain is Chairman and Director of the Hensley Beverage Company in Phoenix, Arizona.  She chairs the Board of Trustees and is a member of the Human Trafficking Council at the McCain Institute for International Leadership at Arizona State University.  She is a Member of the Leadership Council at the Too Small to Fail Initiative in New York City, in addition to leadership roles in numerous other civic and philanthropic organizations. McCain is also Co-Chair of the Arizona Human Trafficking Council, and a member of the Phoenix Mayor’s Human Trafficking Task Force. McCain received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at the University of Southern California.

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